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West Indian Iguana Specialist Group
IUCN - The World Conservation Union
Species Survival Commission
Volume 2, Number 2, Fall 1999
In This Issue
0 News & Comments....................... 1
0 Taxon Reports.............................. 4
0 Recent Literature ....................... 10
& WIISG contact information......... 10
Published by the
Zoological Society of San Diego
Center for Reproduction of
P.O. Box 120551, San Diego, CA 92112
Senterfor Reproduction ofEndangeredSpecie
News & Comments
The following press releases regarding Nike's donations to the Jamaican iguana
project come from Karen Graham, Sedgwick County Zoo, and Rick Hudson,
Fort Worth Zoo.
Lounging Lizard Wear - Nike designs vests for iguanas to test at the
Sedgwick County Zoo (Wichita Eagle Newspaper, September 10, 1999)
By Jenny Upchurch
Nike is putting its trademark swoosh on the rarest lizards in the world.
And the first reptile down the runway Thursday was at the Sedgwick County
How did Nike get into lizard ready-to-wear? The zoo's reptiles cura-
tor, Karen Graham, wrote a letter asking the company to, just do it, please.
And she volunteered her three iguanas, among only 23 at six U.S. zoos, to test
vests designed to hold radio tracking devices. Fewer than 100 Jamaican
iguanas remain in a 38-square mile area on the Caribbean island. To help
boost their numbers, baby iguanas are collected as they hatch and raised at the
zoo in Jamaica. Once they're too big for rats or mongooses to eat, the iguanas
are released. Researchers track them with battery-operated radio transmitters.
But the rocky, thorny underbrush in the appropriately named Hellshire Hills
was, well, hell on anything holding the transmitters.
"Our homemade vests didn't hold up," said Graham, who has been to
Jamaica twice to help study and release iguanas. "Other vests were stronger
but didn't fit the iguanas well." She thought Nike's All Conditions Gear, its
outdoor/hiking products line, could design a vest tough enough to outlast the
18-month batteries on the transmitters.
Damon Clegg, a designer at Nike's Oregon headquarters, says the vests
were more of a footwear challenge than a clothing one. "These little creatures
are low to the ground, and there's lots of abrasion," he said Thursday.
Fabric needed to be durable but breathable, so the cold-blooded
reptiles could gain and lose heat; and it needed to stretch since the iguanas can
grow to 6 feet in length. The final version has a stretchable, breathable mesh
upper and a polyurethane coated leather belly portion. And it has Nike's All
Conditions Gear logo.
"We probably went through six rounds of prototypes," Clegg said.
"Karen calls this the Armani version because it's got real nice piping around
arrived this week at the zoo in
west Wichita. The zoo's three. -
iguanas, who won't be released,
will wear them constantly so
Graham can test the vest's fit and
durability. But if you go to thi
zoo, don't expect to see Edith, Ida, - ..
and the unnamed male strutting _7
their stuff. The life of a fashion-
conscious iguana is stressful t nougih. 1
To encourage the lizards to brid,.
zookeepers don't stress the lizards bh "
putting them on view. If the \ .:t[
pass the tests, Nike will produii.
about 100 for the Jamaican rk.i . k.
program at no charge.
No, it's not a product Nike
thinks could have commercial applications, Clegg said
with a chuckle.
"We have some knowledge and ability, and I
thought that it would be nice to pass along. It's been a
real fun project," he said.
To learn more:
The Jamaican iguanas are not on display at the
Sedgwick County Zoo. The zoo created a Web site
about them, and 18 other West Indian iguanas, at:
To see an iguana wearing an earlier vest in the wild,
, M U
Nike's team iguana takes 'Just do it' seriously (Hous-
ton Chronicle, September 22, 1999)
By Andy Dworkin
Shifting from track to tracking, Nike has
released its latest specialty apparel - tiny vests custom-
made for the endangered Jamaican iguanas. Nike has
built 15 of the rugged garments, complete with a tiny
white swoosh, to hold radio transmitters that let
scientists keep tabs on the 100 or fewer lizards living in
the wild. A couple dozen live in zoos. The unusual
project was hatched at the Sedgwick County Zoo near
Wichita, Kan., where herpetologists are working to
save the rare iguanas. The zoo keepers' own attempts
at fashion design fell apart amid the belly-scraping
rigors of lizard life.
"A lizard is so low to the ground, it's really
more like developing footwear, with an abrasion-
resistant underbelly," Nike spokeswoman Dawn
So in 1998, reptile curator Karen Graham
called Nike's All Conditions Gear unit in Beaverton,
Ore., which makes rugged outdoor wear.
"Honestly, I thought that it was an interesting
design challenge," said Damon Clegg, the Nike de-
signer who headed team iguana. "Anybody that got
involved with it loved it."
A summer intern, Chiwel Lee, drew the initial
sketches, which other designers massaged. After
months of work, the first vests were sent to Wichita for
field testing. Zoo keepers suggested a few changes,
such as toning down the bright yellow and white
materials used in the prototypes.
"If we use bright colors on them, it turns them
into fodder for bigger animals," Clegg said. "They'd
attract things with big teeth."
After about six redesigns, Nike produced the
current vest, a demure gray-blue jacket. Although the
garment looks simple, "it's actually quite a technical
piece," Leonetti said. The vest must grow with the
lizards, so it is made to stretch. Nike used its Dri-FIT
fabric, which channels moisture from the skin for fast
evaporation because trapping heat next to the skin
could hurt the cold-blooded animals.
"It's similar to what athletes need to keep cool
in the sun," Clegg said.
The company is donating the 15 vests. One of
the Sedgwick County Zoo's three iguanas is currently
test-wearing a vest. The other garments will be tested
in Jamaica. If they work well, Leonetti said, Nike will
make 50 more.
Iguanas aren't the first creatures with scientific
clothing accessories, however. For the past year, some
horned lizards in south Texas have been wearing tiny
backpacks designed to carry small radio transmitters.
The program is part of a conservation effort sponsored
by the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife.
Although only four are part of the current study, up to
20 horned lizards were outfitted with the backpacks
over the summer.
The following press release comes from Peter Murtha,
United States Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice.
Certificates of appreciation were sent to Special Agent
Chip Bepler and Attorneys Peter Murtha and Thomas
Watts-Fitzgerald on behalf of the WIISG regarding this
Two South Florida Men Found Guilty Of Illegally
Trafficking In West Indies Tortoises And Rare And
Endangered Lizards (May 20, 1999 News Release)
Thomas E. Scott, United States Attorney for
the Southern District of Florida and Lois J. Schiffer,
Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and
Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of
Justice announced that a federal jury sitting in Fort
Lauderdale returned guilty verdicts today after a three
week trial against two south Florida residents, Dwayne
D. Cunningham, 41, and Robert A. Lawracy, 32, for
illegally trafficking in West Indian reptiles protected
under domestic and international law in violation of
the Lacey Act (the federal anti-wildlife trafficking
statute) and the federal smuggling and conspiracy
statutes. Cunningham and Lawracy were found guilty
of conspiring with one another to violate the Lacey
Act, the federal smuggling statute and the international
treaty known as "CITES", the Convention on Interna-
tional Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora,
which is enforced through the Endangered Species Act.
Additionally, Cunningham was found guilty of a Lacey
Act violation and Lawracy was found guilty of import-
ing wildlife contrary to law. Each of these charges are
felonies punishable by up to 5 years in jail and up to a
According to the Indictment, from 1992
through 1997 the defendants poached and then
trafficked in CITES-protected reptile species that
originated on various West Indies islands. Several
species and sub-species of Cyclura (commonly known
as Rock or Ground Iguanas), including the White's
Cay Rock Iguana and the Exuma Island Rock Iguana,
both of which exist only in the Bahamas Islands, and
the Anegada (British Virgin Islands) Island Rock
Iguana, as well as Lesser Antillean Iguanas and Red-
footed Tortoises, were alleged to have been smuggled
into the United States aboard cruise ships touring the
West Indies that employed Cunningham as a come-
dian and Lawracy as a dive instructor. The aforemen-
tioned species and sub-species of Cyclura are currently
threatened with extinction, with wild populations
numbering in the low hundreds for the White's Cay
and Anegada Rock Iguanas, and are listed on Appendix
I of CITES, the highest level of protection available
under the treaty. The Rock Iguanas and Lesser
Antillean Iguanas were often marketed for $1,000 and
The Indictment further alleged that in an
effort to conceal the smuggling of Exuma Island Rock
Iguanas, Cunningham procured from the U.S. Fish &
Wildlife Service ("USFWS") a permit for the "captive
breeding" of species listed under the Endangered
Species Act to create the impression that their sale of
these reptiles stemmed from a viable domestic breeding
program rather than smuggling of wild-caught
Mr. Scott commended the Special Agents of
the United States Fish and Wildlife Service for their
work on the case.
The United States is represented in this matter
by Thomas Watts-Fitzgerald, Chief of the Environ-
mental Crimes Unit at the U. S. Attorney's Office in
Miami and Peter Murtha, Senior Trial Attorney,
United States Department of Justice, Wildlife &
Marine Resources Section.
U update On Action Plan Publication * The page
layout for West Indian Iguanas: Status Survey
and Conservation Action Plan is in its final stages and
will be published before the end of the year. The
document, a collaborative effort of 27 individual
contributors, is 117 pages in length and contains
numerous maps and photographs. We are very grate-
ful to Fauna and Flora International and Gina
Guarnieri for taking on the layout task, and appreciate
all the hard work that has gone into making the action
plan possible. When it becomes available, WIISG
members will each receive one complimentary copy.
Additional copies can be purchased through the IUCN
D digital Photo Archive * The Chicago Zoological
Society Chicago Board of Trade Endangered
Species Fund has recently announced its support of the
West Indian Iguana Specialist Group project to create a
digital photo archive. The grant award is for $1500.
Tom Wiewandt of Wild Horizons, Inc. (Tucson, AZ)
will be coordinating this project. The Specialist Group
will be responsible for producing a report on project
status by June of next year. Contact Tom Wiewandt
(email@example.com) for instructions on
W 'IISG Group structure * In June of this year,
Several WIISG members participated in an
IUCN workshop in Washington D.C. designed to
address the structure and future direction of the SSC's
reptile and amphibian network. WIISG participants
included Allison Alberts, Sandy Buckner, Richard
Gibson, and Jose Ottenwalder. Draft recommenda-
tions from the workshop were as follows:
1. In order to address that main threats facing reptiles
and amphibians today, the SSC Steering Committee
and Executive Committee should endorse the
workplan prepared at this workshop and provide all
possible support to these activities.
2. The SSC should officially recognize the significance
of trade on reptile and amphibian populations.
3. Actively encourage the Red Listing process for those
groups not yet adequately addressed.
Network Structure and Support:
1. In order to tackle the immediate problems of
getting information from the herp community to
complete tasks such as the Red List 2000 and broaden-
ing of the SSC herp network, SSC should establish a
Herp Conservation Task Force (HCTF).
2. With growing recognition of the urgency of herp
conservation issues, we recommend that SSC adopt a
more formal structure for its herp network as proposed
in this report. Without this support, successful and
timely implementation of the workplan will not occur.
3. SSC should accept Conservation International's
offer of a Programme Officer for the amphibian and
Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group, with
4. The SSC Chair should appoint a Chair for the new
Amphibian Specialist Group as soon as possible.
5. The SSC should encourage the West Indian Iguana
Specialist Group to expand its mandate to the Iguana
6. The SSC should support the formation of a South-
east Asian Reptile and Amphibian Specialist Group.
Andros Island Iguana
(Cyclura cychlura cychlura)
Here I provide a quick update about the Shedd
Aquarium's recent Andros Island research expedition
aboard our vessel, Coral Reef II. This iguana research
program involved using members of the general public
to assist with data collection and was a great success.
We spent six days (June 24-29) attempting to
partially survey Middle and portions of South Bight.
We hired a local guide/hunter the first day and he took
us to three locations in Middle Bight. The trip started
off promising with an initial quick capture but our
fortunes then turned and we only captured one addi-
tional animal over the ensuing two days. We surveyed
six locations in Middle Bight and usually observed
scattered tracks but no significant signs of iguanas.
One of the locations included a cay where iguanas
were historically collected in the 1960's. We spent two
days on the island and only observed one iguana and
some tail drags.
South Bight was more promising. We identi-
fied a cay where the iguanas appear to be living well
and we captured 15 individuals from the island. We
also captured iguanas from three additional cays in
South Bight including a first-year hatchling.
A total of 23 iguanas were captured (13 fe-
males, 9 males, 1 juvenile). Mean weight and SVL for
females were 2.08 kg + 1.33 kg and 36.18 cm + 9.71
cm, respectively. The largest captured female was 49.7
SVL and weighed 4.75 kg.
Mean weight and SVL for males were 3.56 kg
+ 2.11 kg and 42.14 cm + 9.51, respectively. The
largest captured male was 50.0 SVL and weighed 6.45
kg. In addition, a total of 22 blood samples were
The singular threat to the populations that we
surveyed is hunting pressure. Virtually every local
inhabitant has eaten iguana and they are still hunted
on remote cays by the itinerant crab hunter.
I intend to continue with the Andros surveys
and will provide a more detailed account at a later
( Chuck Knapp
John G. Shedd Aquarium and University of Florida
Jamaican Iguana (Cyclura collei)
Exotic Predator Contol In The Hellshire Hills, Jamaica
In an effort to confer protection to the rem-
nant population of the endangered Jamaican Iguana,
we have been conducting a removal-trapping program
aimed at reducing the density of the introduced Indian
mongoose. The mongoose is a voracious predator of
ground-dwelling reptiles, and is believed to be respon-
sible for apparent low recruitment in the iguana
population. Our predator removal plot is located in
the very center of the Hellshire Hills, in the vicinity of
the primary iguana concentration - including the only
two known iguana nesting sites. A primary objective is
to reduce mongoose predation on young iguanas, and
thereby improve recruitment into the breeding popula-
tion. We are also conducting an experimental study
which seeks to determine whether mongoose removal
is an efficacious strategy for preserving biodiversity
As elsewhere, the mongoose has proven to be
easily trapped in the Hellshire Hills. We use standard
wire mesh live traps baited with smoked red herring,
and now have over 40 traps deployed along a loop trail
within an area of roughly 1 square km. Trapped
mongooses are sacrificed, weighed, and sexed, and then
their digestive tracts are dissected for use in analyses of
dietary preferences and parasite loads (see below).
Since our initial removal effort in May 1997,
we have recorded over 12,000 trap days (1 trap day = 1
trap open for 1 day) and have removed over 150
mongooses. As evidenced by a reduction in capture
rate (roughly an order of magnitude), we are confident
that our removal plot is 100% free of resident mon-
gooses. At present (August 1999), we are capturing an
average of 1-2 mongooses per week, and assume that
these captures represent two distinct categories of
mobile individuals. We suspect that most captures
represent dispersing animals; the observation that over
80% of trapped mongooses are males is consistent with
the interpretation that the trapped sample consists
primarily of immigrants. A second, smaller group
likely consists of individuals whose home ranges lie
outside the removal plot, but whose occasional long-
distance forays result in contacting our trap line. Since
male mongooses are known to have larger home ranges
and greater overall movement distances, this suggestion
is also consistent with the observed male bias in our
It also appears that mongooses are trapped
quickly after entering the removal plot. Only once
have free-ranging mongooses been observed in the
removal plot since trapping was begun in 1997; in this
instance two juveniles were noted at the northern end
of the no-mongoose zone, near a trap from which their
mother had been recently removed. Both juveniles
were trapped and removed within 24 hours. On the
other hand, observations of free-ranging mongooses
have remained common in the control area. Overall
then, removal trapping of the mongoose appears to be a
viable conservation strategy - at least within small
conservation zones. However, the maintenance of even
a small mongoose-free zone requires a tremendous field
effort; and because the Hellshire Hills constitute a
mainland (i.e., large island) habitat, a successful preda-
tor removal campaign must necessarily be a continuous
A major component to this trapping program
concerns documenting potential responses of mon-
goose prey species to the removal of this non-native
predator. Although our primary focus is on the terres-
trial reptile community, we have also enumerated the
relative abundance of most large arthropod taxa.
Before initiation of mongoose trapping in May
of 1997, we established three pitfall trap grids (each
containing 16 20-litre bucket traps + drift fencing), and
generated baseline measures of abundance for the
Byron Wilson checking traps
terrestrial fauna over a 50-day trapping period (Febru-
ary to April). Two of these plots are located in the
mongoose-free zone; a third plot (north of the mon-
goose trapping area) is serving as an experimental
control, against which to compare changes in faunal
abundance noted on the two mongoose removal plots.
We repeated our original (1997) pitfall trapping
sequence in both 1998 and 1999. In fall of 1998 we
established a second control plot (also with 16 pitfall
traps), and began conducting 30-day wet season
assessments during the month of October. Hence, we
now have a total of four pitfall trapping grids which
are opened during two discrete seasons of each year.
Although it is still early in the experiment, we
have witnessed some encouraging trends. In particu-
lar, the relative abundance of the Jamaican skink has
increased at both of our mongoose removal plots,
while abundance has remained essentially unchanged
at the control plot. Projections for the dry season
assessment in the year 2000 suggest that we will
document a statistically significant, positive influence
of mongoose removal on the abundance of the skink.
And while we have yet to capture a juvenile iguana in
a pitfall trap, informal observations suggest that small
iguanas may be benefiting from our predator removal
regimen; no sightings of juvenile iguanas were re-
corded in either 1997 or 1998, whereas we recorded
four such observations during the first half of 1999.
In addition, a juvenile iguana (SVL= 197mm) was
captured in a mongoose trap in June of 1999 - the
first ever capture of an individual in this size class.
An important component of this study is the
analysis of mongoose diet. This research is being
headed by Mr. Delano Lewis, and will constitute part
of his Masters thesis for the Department of Life
Sciences at UWI, Mona. Mr. Lewis has so far exam-
ined the contents of nearly 150 stomachs, and the
preliminary results are quite interesting. Lizards
clearly seem to make up the bulk of the mongoose's
diet in the Hellshire Hills. Anolis lizards appear to be
the most common prey species, with up to nine
individual Anolis having been noted in a single mon-
goose stomach. Perhaps more interestingly, the
remains of several rare species of ground lizard have
also been noted; including at least four specimens of
the recently re-discovered blue-tailed galliwasp
We are also involved in a study seeking to
elucidate host-parasite interactions in the mongoose.
Two parasitologists in the Life Sciences Dept. (UWI),
Dr. Ralph Robinson and his graduate student Miss.
Lisa Daley, are currently examining mongoose intesti-
nal tracts to characterize the parasite loads carried by
mongooses in the Hellshire Hills. To date, over 80
intestines have been examined, and roughly eight
parasite species have been tentatively identified. In
the near future we will be collecting material from a
disturbed habitat, as a primary aim of the research is
to compare parasite loads in "undisturbed" (= interior
Hellshire Hills) versus human-disturbed habitats.
We are grateful to the University of the West
Indies and Rick Hudson of the Fort Worth Zoo,TX
for generous financial support of our mongoose work.
`0h Byron Wilson and Peter Vogel
University of the West Indies, Mona & Jamaican
Iguana Research and Conservation Group
Goat Islands, Jamaica Update
On 7 June 1999 a team of biologists visited the
Goat Islands off the SE coast of Jamaica to make a
preliminary assessment of the island's potential to
support Jamaican iguanas, Cyclura collei, again. For-
merly part of the iguana's historic range, this species
disappeared from these islands in the 1940s and were
declared extinct. Great Goat Island is an uninhabited 1
km2 limestone cay roughly 1 km offshore from the
Hellshire Hills. It is a dry limestone forest that sup-
ports a remnant population of the Jamaican iguana
that was rediscovered in 1990. This report summarizes
our observations and discusses the potential and
measures necessary for restoring Great Goat Island as a
protected iguana sanctuary.
The team consisted of three members of the
IUCN/SSC West Indian Iguana Specialist Group
(WIISG) including Glenn Gerber, Byron Wilson, and
myself accompanied by Edwin Duffus. A local fisher-
man transported us to the island from Port
Henderson. Having heard of the large feral goat
population on this island, we were expecting to find a
somewhat barren landscape denuded and badly dam-
aged by goats. We were all pleasantly surprised to find
the island's vegetation in much better condition than
anticipated. Though the under story is heavily im-
pacted, many of the iguana food plants found in the
Hellshire Hills are present in sufficient numbers to
support iguanas. The under story is presently domi-
nated by an aromatic shrub (Croton sp.) which is
disproportionally abundant, indicative of an over-
grazed ecosystem. However it was the consensus of the
group that if the goat population were eliminated then
the vegetation should regenerate in time. As is, the
vegetation would likely support a small population of
iguanas. Furthermore, the number of potential
nesting sites is remarkable, and unlike the
Hellshire Hills which has few suitable nesting
areas, Goat Island has abundant soil filled depres-
The island has a substantial number of
feral goats which are "subsidized" by the provision
of fresh water from locals on the mainland.
Ownership of the goats in question, and this issue
would have to be resolved before removal or
eradication efforts could be initiated. Once
ownership is assigned, then a system of financial
restitution could possibly be implemented,
though Mr. Duffus firmly disagrees with this idea.
He believes the goats are there illegally and that
the violators should not be rewarded for breaking
the law. Fortunately no one seems to depend on
the goats for their livelihood, and they are main-
tained here for the purposes of periodic harvesting
when someone wants goat meat.
Removal of the goats could proceed in one
of several ways: (1) the goats could be shot and
turned over to a local meat packing plant that
processes goat meat; (2) they could be removed by
their "owners"; (3) a small bounty could be placed
on goats and a roundup organized among local
hunters. Regardless of which method is employed
to remove the goats, it should be done in a man-
ner that is non-confrontational such that the local
goat owners do not become hostile and vindictive.
The long-term success of the Goat Island restora-
tion project will likely depend on the good will
and support of the local people.
Great Goat Island also supports Indian
mongoose which would require eradication. This
could be accomplished through the application of
poison bait which would be quicker and easier
that trapping. However, a thorough search of the
island for any remaining iguanas should be done prior
to any poisoning efforts.
The Goat Islands, along with a significant
portion of southeastern coastal Jamaica known as the
Portland Bight (includes the Hellshire Hills, Portland
Ridge, Braziletto Mountain, and encompasses all the
marine area out to the 200 meter depth contour) are
now officially protected under a management agree-
ment with a local NGO, the Caribbean Coastal Area
Management (CCAM) Foundation (Peter Espeut,
Director). The Portland Bight Protected Area is large
with a total area of 724 sq. miles (1876 km2) making it
Jamaica's largest protected area so far. Under that
group's management plan, which has been accepted by
the government, the Goat Islands are slated for tourism
purposes including a field station and boats. The plan
Edwin Duffus and Byron Wilson
also includes restoring the iguana population to the
island. Thus the timing appears to be right to begin
dialog with the Natural Resources Conservation
Authority (NRCA) and CCAM to propose the restora-
tion of Goat Island as an iguana sanctuary.
This small island, due to its close proximity to
the mainland, offers enormous potential as a tourist
destination. The terrain and environment are not
overly challenging, and once restored, tourists would
have a reasonable expectation of seeing iguanas.
Visitors could come here on a day trip through a local
tourist charter/fishing boat, search for iguanas with the
aid of an interpretive guide, and enjoy a fresh fish
lunch cooked on the beach. An iguana enclosure
could be erected which would serve the dual purpose
of hardening headstarted iguanas prior to their release
while providing visitors a guaranteed opportunity of
seeing iguanas. Interpretive graphic panels at this
facility would describe the natural history of the
Jamaican iguana, and tell the story of its rediscovery
and the efforts being made to save it from extinction.
In order for the above scenario to be realized,
several things will be necessary. First, a full-time
warden will need to be hired which will necessitate the
construction of a modest field station with living
quarters; a boat will also be necessary for transporta-
tion to the mainland and patrolling the island. Ideally
a project manager who is already knowledgeable about
the ongoing iguana recovery program will be selected,
and I submit that WIISG member Byron Wilson, PhD
is an excellent candidate for such a position. His
specialty is predator control, and he is in his second
year as a Research Associate with the Life Sciences
Department at the University of the West Indies in
Kingston. Byron is presently working full-time in the
Hellshire Hills, systematically trapping mongoose
while measuring the effects of this program on terres-
trial species composition and relative abundance. A
Jamaican should also be employed as an assistant, to
keep the project tied to the local community.
Foremost, some form of "social intervention"
will need to be initiated to gauge the feelings and
reactions of the local population to the proposed plans.
Due to social tension and widespread unrest among
Jamaica's poor, the handling of this issue will be critical
to the success of the Goat Island project. CCAM
Director Peter Espeut is a sociologist and hopefully
adept at negotiating these situations. If the situation is
handled poorly, then long-term security measures for
the project's personnel and property will need to be
factored into the equation.
The group also visited Little Goat Island which
is very close to Great Goat Island, being "joined" by an
impenetrable morass of mangrove swamp such that a
boat patrolling the islands would have to circle both
islands at once rather than traveling between them.
Little Goat differs significantly in that it is flat, prima-
rily sandy in composition, and heavily impacted by
man and animals. We saw charcoal burners at work
and numerous goats are present. On old landing strip
and bunkers remain from a 1940s U.S. military
installation. In short, the island is probably not worth
any serious restoration efforts.
St. Lucia Iguana (Iguana iguana)
What little is known about iguanas on St.
Lucia suggests that they are facing a conservation crisis.
Their closest relative is the green iguana (Iguana
iguana) which is found on several Caribbean islands,
and in Central and South America. The St. Lucian
animals are quite distinct morphologically and recent
genetic work confirms that these animals are histori-
cally and currently isolated from mainland I. iguana.
Although never considered common, these animals are
rarely seen in the wild, even in the core of their sug-
gested range. Extensive wildlife studies in these areas
have failed to find evidence of iguanas. Animals have
been reported occasionally to the Forestry Division of
the Ministry of Agriculture in St. Lucia and as a result
there are now four individuals in captivity at the mini-
zoo in Union, St. Lucia. Although these animals are
well cared for and they occasionally lay eggs, their
current enclosures do not include habitat that is
conducive to successful breeding. The WIISG has
agreed to aid the St. Lucia Forestry Department in
developing a conservation program for iguanas on St.
Lucia. Together, we have submitted a grant proposal to
the Lincoln Park Zoo Scott Neotropic Fund which has
three primary objectives:
to improve the captive facilities to allow
to survey key sites for the presence of wild
to assess potential release sites for animals
produced by the captive breeding effort
Secondary objectives include training St.
Lucian biologists in iguana captive breeding and
husbandry, survey methodology, and habitat evalua-
tion, and education of the few people responsible for
continued hunting of gravid females in the wild.
C- Allison Alberts
Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species
Zoological Society of San Diego
ct^ J Rick Hudson
Fort Worth Zoo
Bartsch's Iguana (Cyclura carinata bartschi)
Shortly after the White Oak Plantation
meeting of WIISG in October 1998, another visit to
Booby Cay, Mayaguana was made by John Bendon
and Joe Wasilewski, President of the International
Iguana Society. This was to further assess the status of
the Booby Cay iguana. The following is a brief
summary of our findings. A full account of the trip
can be found in Iguana Times Vol. 7, #3.
Two days were spent on the cay, which is
difficult to reach, owing to the coral reef surrounding
it, the weather, and the moods and availability of the
fishermen who take us there.
Nine medium to adult iguanas were captured
and measured, eight fitted with PIT tags and blood
sampled, and all nine released again exactly where
they were caught. A few hatchlings and yearlings were
observed and two hatchlings were caught for observa-
tion only, being extremely easy to snatch from rocks
owing to their naivete. Although, all captured ani-
mals were in a healthy condition, some broken tails
were seen, and one animal with a bulging eye was
tagged. The heaviest lizard caught was a male at 1.8
kg, but the largest one was a male of SVL 37.55 cm,
TL 37.45 cm. In most animals, the body and the tail
were of almost equal length.
The much discussed goats, which we were
told had been removed, were still present, slowly
munching their way through the cay. At least thirteen
were counted. Eric Carey of the Ministry of Agricul-
ture in Nassau was contacted, and a letter was sent by
the IIS to the head of the department expressing
dismay. This matter is now in the hands of the
Ministry and the IIS will follow their directive.
Rat droppings were numerous and two rat:
were spotted during daylight hours, suggesting
that many more are present. Also, 17 Casuar,;..
(Australian pine) trees were counted. An
English language sign was erected, paid for
by IIS, asking visitors to be careful of
stepping on burrows and not to leave -.
trash. The eight blood samples were sent
to Mrs. Sandra Buckner to await CITES -
papers for import into the Untied States. i
The papers have now arrived and the "
blood will be sent forthwith for analysis.
Upon returning to England in
May 1999, I contacted Mark Day of
Fauna & Flora International and arranged a
meeting to discuss the problem of the rats. A, a
result of that meeting, the "Booby Cay Project" was
launched. Mark Day is currently conducting a risk
assessment for the elimination of the Booby Cay rat
population, using maps, photographs, and reports
from my three visits to the island. He thinks the
program is feasible and will gather more information
from me after the fourth visit in late October 1999,
and hopes that on the fifth visit, probably March
2000, the program can be commenced, taking up to
six weeks to complete. FFI and IIS, with the co-
operation of WIISG, will hopefully all be involved in
this important project, as it is still not known just
how many of these iguanas remain. Booby Cay is
their only known location.
The October 1999 visit has several goals: to
destroy the Australian pine trees; to capture more
iguanas for tagging and blood samples; to cross the
400 yard gap between Booby Cay and the mainland
to see if there are any iguanas there; to make a new
map (completed each visit); to pick up the numerous
light bulbs and fluorescent tubes that litter the cay,
estimated at about 1500; and to count the iguanas.
Four people will be going: Glenn Gerber of the
University of Tennessee, who will assess the popula-
tion, Steve Connors of Miami Metro Zoo, Joe
Wasilewski and John Bendon, both from IIS. We will
assess any other wildlife resident on the cay. Follow-
ing this trip, a further report will be sent to WIISG.
/ John Bendon
International Iguana Society
Illustration by John Bendon
Bendon, J. 1998. It takes two to tango on Booby Cay.
Journal of the International Iguana Society (Iguana
Crother, B.I., editor. 1999. Caribbean Amphibians
and Reptiles, Academic Press, San Diego, CA, 495pp.
Ehrig, R.W 1998. Progress for Cyclura rileyi cristata.
Journal of the International Iguana Society (Iguana
Glor, R.E., R. Powell, and J.S. Parmerlee, Jr. 1998.
Cyclura ricordii. Catalogue of American Amphibians
and Reptiles (657):1-3.
Knapp, C. 1998. Morphologic characters of herbivo-
rous lizards. Journal of the International Iguana
Society (Iguana Times) 7(1):11-17.
Knapp, C. 1998. Vanishing iguanas. Journal of the
International Iguana Society (Iguana Times) 7(3):27-
Martins, E.P. 1998. Estimating ancestral states of a
communicative display: a comparative study of
Cyclura rock iguanas. Animal Behavior 55:1685-
Mitchell, N.C. 1999. Effect of introduced ungulates
on density, dietary preferences, home range, and
physical condition of the iguana (Cyclura pinguis) on
Anegada. Herpetologica 55(1):7-17.
Powell, R. 1999. Herpetology of Navassa Island, West
Indies. Caribbean Journal of Science 35(1-2):1-13.
Powell, R., J.A. Ottenwalder, and S.J. Inchustegui.
1999. The Hispaniolan herpetofauna: diversity,
endemism, and historical perspectives, with comments
on Navassa Island. In: Caribbean Amphibians and
Reptiles, edited by B.I. Crother, Academic Press, San
Diego, CA, p.93-168.
Wasilewski, J. 1998. Booby Cay update. Journal of
the International Iguana Society (Iguana Times)
WIISG Contact Information
Sandra Buckner, Co-Chair
Bahamas National Trust
Jose Ottenwalder, Deputy Chair
UNDP-GEF Biodiversity Project,
Allison Alberts, Co-Chair
Zoological Society of San Diego
Richard Hudson, Deputy Chair
Fort Worth Zoo
The World Conservation Union
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